Brad Falchuk remembers earning his first real writer's credit on the sci-fi series “Earth: Final Conflict” in 2001.
Falchuk describes the project as a “deeply mediocre science fiction syndicated show ... that aired at four in the afternoon on a Saturday.” Although he doesn't remember the words he wrote, Falchuk recalls how it made him feel to have his words make air.
“It’s moving. It’s exciting. You choose a dream, which is an irrational dream ... to become a writer that gets paid for their work ... Even a show like that, which is a very middling show, there's still millions of dollars invested in what you have written.”
At present day, Falchuk has a list of multihyphenate credits on shows like “Nip/Tuck,” “Glee,” “American Horror Story” and “ Pose, " with frequent collaborator Ryan Murphy.
This month, Falchuk debuted his first Murphy-less project, a dark comedy he co-created with newcomer Byron Wu, called “The Brothers Sun.” It's under his Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision banner. Falchuk also served as co-showrunner with Wu in an otherwise all-Asian writers room.
“You have all those voices in the room, and then it’s just a matter of listening and humbling yourself without losing your strength and confidence, which is a dance that I have some experience doing and I have no problem doing,” Falchuk said.
“The Brothers Sun” was Wu's first experience in a writers room. Wu credits Falchuk for pushing him — and the other writers — to authenticate their writing.
“He asks such insightful questions having an outside perspective,” adding that Falchuk was often “poking at things” to get to something deeper. He would ask, ‘Why do you think that is? What about your family? Where do you think that comes from,'" said Wu. "It allows us to really reach the truth and not just tackle the surface issues of our identities but the emotional and generational issues."
“The Brothers Sun” follows Charles (played by Justin Chien), a member of a Taiwanese criminal organization. When his father, the head of the triad, is targeted by an assassin, Charles leaves Taipei and heads to Los Angeles to protect his mother and younger brother, Bruce (Sam Song Li), who has no clue about his family's illicit side.
Falchuk and Wu landed Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh for the pivotal role of the mother, Eileen. They recalled meeting with the best actress winner at the Beverly Wilshire hotel to talk about the project.
Said Wu “I was an hour early to the meeting. I was like, ‘I’m already gonna be nervous. I just want to acclimate myself to the space ... a very Hollywood place. I remember shaking and asking the bartender for a water.”
Yeoh, who starred in "Everything Everywhere All at Once'' says it was an easy yes because for one, she is a fan of Falchuk's prior work.
“I’m a big fan of all the ‘American Horror Stories,'" said Yeoh. "He’s not afraid to go beyond a particular genre. With ‘Brothers Sun,’ we’ve taken on a subject matter and then just thrown in the deepest dark humor that you’ve seen for a while.”
Yeoh relishes that the show gives her an opportunity to show her comedic side.
“That was one thing I never thought I could do, to be honest. Everybody always puts me in the most serious role," said Yeoh, who learned that to be funny, she just had to play it straight. “I think that comes off across as even more funny because when you don't try to be funny, it's hysterical.”
Throughout his career, Falchuk has helped give meaty material to veteran actors Jessica Lange and Angela Bassett and assisted in making stars out of a long list of performers, including Sarah Paulson, Billy Porter, Evan Peters, Lea Michele, Darren Criss and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez.
“Working with geniuses is always the best,” said Falchuk. It's always such an incredible, edifying experience to be around somebody who is a master at their craft. You learn so much, and they push you in the right ways."
He wants to do that behind-the-scenes too, like with Wu.
“I said, ‘You’re my partner here and you’re going to learn how to do this, and I’m going to teach you how to do this.’ And then one of these days, hopefully the show goes on many years, and I don’t need to be here anymore. To me, that’s considered a success.”